Updated April 12, 2022.
For the last several months, I’ve been trying out tons of solid travel toiletries so I can recommend the best to you! Carry-on travelers have been highly restricted with their liquids since 2006, and in 2018, powders came under scrutiny as well. In my own efforts to pack light and always travel carry-on only, I’ve tried tons of brands and products to figure out what’s the best, what’s most efficient, and what’s most effective to take with me when I travel. This guide is here to make things a little easier for you, so I hope it’s helpful!
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Why do airlines and airports have rules about liquids? Well, in case you never heard about it or have forgotten, there was a plot (perhaps more than one) to create explosives onboard aircrafts using liquid explosives in 2006. So now the good travelers of the world have to be careful about what and how much liquid we bring onboard. The important things to note are:
- You may only bring liquids in containers of 3.4 ounces or less.
- All liquids must fit into one clear, quart-size bag.
- The exceptions to these rules are medical necessities such as contact solution, baby formula, prescriptions, etc.
Want more details? Check out the TSA website!
Want a more durable liquids bag than simply a ziplock? This one is TSA approved!
Go lightly: How to Pack the Perfect Carry-on
Soap and Shampoo
This one is pretty common already, but the kind of soap you use matters. I get no payment or otherwise for writing this, but the best soap I’ve found is from Truly-Life, an eco-friendly, woman-owned small business in Alexandria, VA! Her soaps are all-natural, some unscented, some scented with herbs and essential oils. They make my skin feel smooth and soft, and even my husband approves! Some of my favorite soaps are:
- Fresh Coffee: For active trips when my skin needs extra scrubbing because it’s caked with sunscreen, bug repellent, sweat, dirt, etc., and the exfoliating coffee grounds are reused from a local coffee roaster!
- Coconut: This one is an excellent scent to transport you to the tropics, and it doubles as shampoo! Truth be told, I have used several of these scented soaps as shampoo, but the coconut bar is specially made for it!
- Eucalyptus Cool: It smells fresh and makes me think of koalas and Australia. What’s not to love about that!
- Soap-infused Luffas: Not only are the luffas grown right in her backyard, they are excellent for scrubbing! They come in an assortment of scents, so choose the ones you like best!
Read next: My Top 10 Packing Hacks
*A Note on Dry Shampoo
The soap above is my personal preference for solid shampoo, but dry shampoo is certainly another option! Caution: it may be called “dry” shampoo, but it’s still a liquid inside, so travel size is what you’ll need. It doesn’t work well for me always because my hair is curly, and you have to brush it out. I have, however, used it after straightening my hair to make the straight locks last a couple of extra days, and it worked well! If you have straight hair, toss one in your liquids bag and give it a try. Just don’t forget your hairbrush!
I tried a variety of solid conditioner bars before writing this post, but unfortunately none of them worked well for me at all! My hair felt dry and a bit like straw, so I will continue taking my creamy liquid conditioner with me. After trying so hard to keep my hair long, I don’t prefer the straw look or feel. If you happen to try a conditioner bar and find the same results I did, all is not lost! You can also use the conditioner bars as shaving cream or an in-shower moisturizer!
Update for 2020: I found a conditioner bar that works! As I’ve mentioned before, I have curly hair, which is naturally dry, so the extra moisture with a liquid conditioner is important. However, I recently tried Truly-Life’s new consitioner bars, and I’m hooked! Even though you know I love this company and their products, I was incredibly skeptical after having bad experiences with other solid conditioners. After trying it for several weeks, though, I honestly think it works as well or perhaps better than my regular conditioner. Give it a try!
Keep reading: The Best Hotel Luxuries in the World
If you haven’t heard already, coconut oil has about a bajillion uses! It is solid at room temperature, but liquifies at around 75 degrees (or when rubbed between your hands). I’ve looked and looked for a good travel size container that won’t leak in my bag in hot climates, and I just recently found the 2-ounce, refillable jar below, as well as a gravity-feed tube! My favorite ways to use coconut oil are:
- Facial moisturizer
- Hair masque
- Makeup remover
- Shaving cream
Get more: My In-flight Beauty Routine
Facial Cleanser and Moisturizer
If you’re not a fan of coconut oil but still want a non-liquid makeup remover and moisturizer, wipes are definitely the way to go. They’re convenient for freshening up in-flight as well as keeping neat and tidy wherever you are in the world!
More here: How to Practice Self-care on Travel
It’s easy enough to find travel-size toothpaste, but the space in that single, quart-size bag is precious! Make room in your liquids bag by packing these toothpaste tabs instead. Just chew, brush (or swish, if you’re caught without a toothbrush), and spit. Easy! The tablets below are good in a pinch:
If given a choice, however, I would bring Colgate Wisps. They make my whole mouth feel cleaner, and the little toothpick at the end means it can be your dental floss, toothbrush, and toothpaste in one!
Read next: The Pros and Cons of Traveling Carry-on Only
I’ve tried quite a lot of deodorants in my time. As someone who works out daily and whose packing mantra is, “I can rewear that,” a reliable deodorant is perhaps the most important thing I pack for every trip!
Natural deodorant is also an important consideration for me because the aluminum and other ingredients in regular deodorants have been shown to cause breast cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, both of which run in my family. There are some decent natural options out there, but I recently found the one that absolutely, 100%, works far better than all the others. It’s called Native, and it comes in several incredible scents for both men and women! Go ahead and get the full-size: it’s solid!
More here: How to Travel and Still Have Good Hygiene
It’s very important to use sunscreen that works. I have been using Neutrogena for years because it’s one of the few that doesn’t break out my skin in a horrible rash. Just this summer I found their solid sunscreen, so I will never travel with a liquid suncreen again! It works like a dream, goes on smoothly and evenly, and it smells nice, too. This one is zinc-based, so it’s also reef-safe, which is essential for a beach vacation!
Don’t take it from me; hear it from a dermatologist! The Traveler’s Ultimate Guide to Sunscreen
I’ve been looking for a solid bug repellent for years, and we finally found one! My husband is like a bug magnet (he’s just too sweet!), so an effective bug repellent is incredibly important for his comfort and overall health. We love to go hiking and just be outside, but we sometimes had to limit ourselves to certain times of day to avoid the worst of the bugs. Not anymore!
More Here: 5 Practical Ways to Travel Sustainably
Liquids for Which There are No Solid Options
Unfortunately, there are some things for which there are no solid options, at least none that I can recommend. The liquids I must take with me when I travel are:
- Contact solution (medically necessary, so does not have to be restricted to the 3.4-ounce rule)
- Hair mousse, gel, foam, etc.
Getting it down to two is pretty good! What liquids do you wish came in a solid form? Would you be willing to go solid with your toiletries? Comment below!
Need more packing tips? Find everything you need and more on my Packing Page!
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